Scott Hanselman

Multiple Monitors and Productivity

October 21, 2003 Comment on this post [4] Posted in PowerShell | Gaming | Bugs | Tools
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Preach on brother.  I started using multiple monitors a few years back when the ATI video card on my Compaq Laptop supported using both the LCD Panel and the external monitor together.  I blogged on a bit on it earlier this year as did John Lam

I spent some time looking for the perfect dual-head video card.  Although you can certainly line up PCI Video Cards from more than one manufacturer, you’re better of with IMHO with a dual-head card.  Personally, the best drivers for multiple monitors are NVidia’s, and a MUST HAVE piece of software for anyone with >1 monitor is UltraMon, if only for it’s second “Smart Taskbar.”  It sports tools for systems with even as many as 10 or more monitors and supports stuff as advanced (and useful) as scripting your many monitors

I’m currently running an NVidia Dual Head Card with a ViewSonic 17” LCD at 1280x1024 and a 17” Joe-Monitor at 1152x864 and believe me, I will take the Pepsi Challenge against anyone with a single monitor at 1024x768 is more productive. :) I really would LOVE to have more monitors although I’d suspect 3 is the ideal number.  

I first saw this on Rory’s blog and had to check into it.  Rory points to a news item on Slashdot which has the following entry:

"A systematic study conducted by NEC-Mitsubishi, ATI Technologies and the University of Utah has concluded that the use of multiple monitors in the workplace increases productivity. The study is discussed on Tom's Hardware, EE Times, and there's a detailed press release on NEC-Mitsubishi. For those of us who use multi-monitors, this is not shocking. But maybe now that it's official, IT managers will view it as a good investment and not just for gamers."

These articles all showed and discussed productivity while using flat-screen panels.  It makes sense that NEC and ATI would.  With a setup like the picture below, couldn’t you be more productive?  At the client site that I’m currently working, the customer provided a monitor for my usage.  So, combined with my DELL notebook which has multi-monitor support, I’m doing multi-monitor development.  I can run my mail client or Query Analyzer on one screen and VS.NET on the other doing debugging.  So, there is a benefit without dual flat displays.  But don’t they look good?  So, forward the article to your management and get more work done while your surfing.

[Jon Box's Weblog]

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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October 22, 2003 19:20
I read this post I couldn't help thinking of one of my co-workers that develops under such a low resolution (800x600) so that he can read the code. He'd probably benefit from using multiple monitors: one for viewing the code, one for Solution Explorer, one for the Output window, one for the Toolbox, etc... It's such a pain having to work on his box when I need to help him out! :)
October 22, 2003 19:52
That's interesting...I don't buy the "I can't see so I run at a low res" story anymore. I am nearly legally blind, and I run at 1280x1024...BUT I run with Lucida Console 18 point font. (Most people run at 12 pt or 10 pt MS Sans Serif). I also run with large icons. The result is that I see the same number of things, the same number of lines of code, etc, as your coworker, except they are at a much higher quality. Just my 2 cents.
October 23, 2003 11:54
I can only confirm - multi-monitor setups are great.

I'm running three monitors at work (we had a lot of layoffs, hence a lot of extra machinery), and I notice when I get home to my single-monitor system that I feel really constrained.

I've got:
Outlook - Whatever I'm currently doing - Outlook Express

The Outlook and Outlook Express screens are occasionally used for remote desktop sessions.
My coming plan is to try four, but I'm not sure my table (nor my attention span) can handle it.
October 24, 2003 7:54
I'm thinking of having a first born ASAP so I can give it away for one of these:

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.